We Tried It: Batting Practice with New York Yankees Legend Bernie Williams

·4 min read
bernie williams
bernie williams

Courtesy Poland Spring Water (L-R) Maria Pasquini, Bernie Williams

What It Is: Batting Practice at Yankee Stadium with Bernie Williams and Poland Spring

Who Tried It: Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE Associate Editor, Human Interest

Why We Tried It: I love baseball, and the New York Yankees, but until a few days ago I had never actually swung a bat. My dad even jokingly said that never teaching me how to hit was his "biggest failure as a father."

So when the opportunity came to take batting practice in Yankee Stadium with Bernie Williams, I was so excited. Of course, with absolutely zero experience, I also felt incredibly nervous. What if I never even came close to hitting the ball? What if I actually got hit by the ball? And most importantly, what if I ended up being so embarrassed that I felt I could never step foot in the boogie down Bronx again?

As I took the elevator downstairs to the batting cages, all of these thoughts were still running through my head. But by the time I actually had the bat in my hands, I just felt ready.

bernie williams
bernie williams

Courtesy Poland Spring Water (L-R) Maria Pasquini, Bernie Williams

Right away, the former major leaguer made me feel at ease. When I told Williams that this was a first for me, he launched into baseball 101, showing me how to grip the bat and telling me get in an athletic stance so I would be able to respond to whatever came my way.

And I'm happy to report that I made contact with the very first ball that came my way — something that, not to brag, even impressed the four-time World Series champ.

"You did quite well. The first ball that you saw you made contact with, which is unheard of," he told me afterwards. "That's something that never, ever, ever happens."

bernie williams
bernie williams

Courtesy Poland Spring Water Maria Pasquini

Of course, armed with slightly more confidence, I took a few big cuts and completely whiffed it.

But he pointed out that I shouldn't get too discouraged by a handful of swings and misses. "It's just part of the game," he said. "Even the best do it at some point."

RELATED: Yankees' Aaron Judge Talks Playing Catch With His Dad as a Kid: 'He's Still the Hero in My Eyes'

Williams stepped in to give me a few more helpful tips, including one I had quite literally lost sight of: keeping my eyes on the ball.

"I know it sounds pretty cliché, but I think some of the best hitters in the world and all of the people that play professional baseball have this thing about tracking the baseball all the way down to where the bat makes contact with the ball," he explained.

"Keep your eye on the ball: that's the most important part," he added.

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Another super important tip he had for me? Having a positive attitude.

Instead of looking at the pitcher questioning whether I could make contact, Williams said it's all about having the mindset that I would "make contact with the ball."

RELATD: Yankees Star Gerrit Cole Talks 'Weird Stuff' the Team Does to 'Create Magic' Before and During a Game

All in all, with his help and encouragement, I ended up making contact with the ball a few more times, which isn't bad for a total beginner.

It even gave me a little more perspective on how difficult my favorite sport is.

"I think having the opportunity to actually experience it yourself, you can appreciate how hard it is," Williams told me.

Also, my forearms were sore for days — which he didn't mention in our chat, but then again, there are always some baseball lessons you have to learn for yourself.

bernie williams
bernie williams

Courtesy Poland Spring Water Batting Practice at Yankee Stadium with Bernie Williams and Poland Spring

The Verdict:

So would I get back in the cages anytime soon to get serious about my swing? Let's just say, I think I'll leave hitting it out of the park to Aaron Judge and the rest of the team.